Magnetic Resonance Imaging Rationale

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning allows imaging of the upper airway size and anatomy (40). The technique may also demonstrate related structural abnormalities that may impinge on the upper airway (41-43).

Equipment

Routine MRI scanners are used (see Section 7 of this Statement).

Advantages

MRI is widely available. It is noninvasive and provides images of the whole upper airway. It is not ionizing and can identify adipose deposits around the airway.

Disadvantages

Slow scanning times on many scanners mean that several breath cycles are averaged. Subjects are usually studied awake, whereas it is the site of upper airway narrowing during sleep that is often the object of investigation.

Applications

Magnetic resonance imaging is of limited value in determining the site of obstruction of the upper airway, as this must be done during sleep; the site of maximal narrowing during wakefulness may not be the site of occlusion during sleep. Like CT, MRI holds the promise of providing not just structural images of the upper airway but also the ability to assess upper airway function.

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